Put the stars in your eyes
Hunt down the high-flyers or treat yourself like a movie star in some of Hollywood’s legendary haunts and hideouts, writes Sarah Nicholson
IF TINSEL Town has a heart it must be this hotel at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave.
From one of the windows in my suite at Loews Hollywood Hotel I can see the Griffith Observatory, which featured in the James Dean classic Rebel Without a Cause, the circular Capitol Records building, the LA Law tower in downtown Los Angeles, and the apartments where Julia Roberts and Richard Gere filmed the final scenes of Pretty Woman.
From the window on the other side of the room I spot the Roosevelt Hotel, which was home to the first Academy Awards in 1929, Hollywood High where Sarah Jessica Parker and Mickey Rooney went to school, and the El Capitan Theatre where Disney still holds movie premieres.
TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) and the footpath where some icons of film left their mark in the concrete is next door, the Walk of Fame stars stretch east and west along Hollywood Blvd from the hotel’s side entrance, and the Dolby Theatre – the venue that’s been home to the Oscars since 2002 – is under the same roof.
The Dolby Theatre and Loews Hollywood are part of the Hollywood & Highland Centre, a trendy shopping and entertainment complex, and the motion picture industry’s elite fill every guest room in this upscale hotel on Oscars night so they don’t have far to walk home after celebrating at the Governors Ball next door.
‘‘ Hollywood impacts everything we do at this hotel,’’ Dee Doak, director of sales and marketing at Loews Hollywood, says.
‘‘ We’re not just a tourist hotel, where visitors to LA can stay in comfort and literally see the sights of Hollywood from their bed, but we are a business hotel and on any given day there will be rooms occupied by film crews working on movies and actors in town for meetings.
‘‘ Hollywood as a neighbourhood is thriving at the moment, I have lived in LA my whole life and I’ve never seen it looking this good, and the blocks around the hotel have become a dynamic place because there’s so much going on and lots of new restaurants and theatres opening means lots of activity at night.’’
There’s more to Hollywood than the obvious attractions featured in any Los Angeles guidebook and the Loews Hollywood Hotel concierge has a few tips to get visitors off the Tinsel Town tourist trail and, hopefully, into the path of some celebrities.
Melrose Ave is for quirky clothes and Rodeo Drive is the spot to browse luxury brands, but Robertson Blvd is the place the A-list crowd congregates to see what LA’s cutting-edge designers are doing and dine at a restaurant called The Ivy.
There’s a good chance the Loews Hollywood Hotel concierge will get guests a reservation at The Ivy, but if you can’t swing a seat then linger in any one of the other cafes that line this trendy strip and spend a couple of hours people watching and celebrity spotting in the sunshine.
It’s A Wrap sells wardrobe and props from movie and TV sets and, while you might not spot any famous faces, a visit to this store will give you the chance to wear their clothes.
Stock is delivered to the outlets every day – there are two stores, one in Robertson Blvd and the other in Burbank – depending on the programs in production, and codes on the price tags let shoppers know the origin.
Runyon Canyon Park
When the world’s hottest actors get sick of spending hours in the gym they head to Runyon Canyon Park – the urban wilderness just a stone’s throw from Loews Hollywood Hotel – to get a workout climbing the network of trails that wrap the slopes in view of downtown Los Angeles.
There are three main hiking routes in Runyon Canyon, with something for everyone including vacationing Australians looking to stretch their legs after the long hop across the Pacific Ocean. The really famous folk tend to stick to the most challenging tracks with a pooch or two in tow.
El Capitan Theatre
You could camp out at a Hollywood premiere to catch a glimpse of the cast as they pose for pictures before the curtain goes up on a new blockbuster or, better still, get your hands on the tickets needed to sit in the audience of a chat show filmed in a Hollywood studio and see the stars up close. The El Capitan Theatre – the venue Jimmy Kimmel uses to film his late-night show – is across the road from the hotel and, with a couple of weeks’ notice, the concierge can weave a little magic and get guests the passes they need to watch the comedian grill famous actors and directors live. The writer was a guest of Loews Hollywood Hotel.
CHIC BY CHIC: (clockwise from main) El Capitan Theatre where Disney holds premieres; Arnold Schwarzenegger signs an autograph; view from a Loews suite; and Ian Thorpe runs in the Hollywood hills. Main picture: Sarah Nicholson